Why I’ll Wear Orange on June 2nd

by | Apr 12, 2016

It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.

J.K. Rowling, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

I’m not the kind of person who wears buttons or puts bumper stickers on my car. But on on Tuesday, June 2nd, I’m going to find something orange to wear. Here’s why:

Once a year, in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl shot and killed in Chicago in 2013, her friends wear orange to remember her and symbolize their desire to be seen. Hunters wear orange to keep others from killing them, they reasoned, and so they would do the same.

That prophetic act has become an annual event across the nation. This year, with other members of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, I’m joining in, as an act of prayer and a visible reminder to myself and others that evil persists when people of goodwill do nothing.

If you’d like to be inspired to take a stand for what is right, watch the video that tells the story of Hadiya’s friends. What if, in memory of all who have lost their lives to gun violence, we all wore orange on June 2nd and then again on Sunday June 5th? It could be our collective prayer and witness, joining with others across the country. You can learn more here .

I know it’s not easy to talk about the issues that divide us as Americans, such as gun violence, from the perspective of our Christian faith. But we simply must persevere with courage and love. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

If you’re like me and need inspiration to keep going on this or other difficult paths–to stand up for what you know is right, or to speak a challenging word in love–you might take 90 minutes, as I did this week, to watch the film The Armor of Light now available for live streaming. It tells the story of an unlikely friendship between Lucy McBride, the mother of a teenage boy killed at a gas station for playing loud music, and the Rev. Robert Schenck, an evangelical pastor who has taken up the issue of gun violence among his peers.

Then go to Pastor Schenck’s new website, Sword of the Spirit: A Christian Conversation about Gun Violence. In a statement he asks other evangelical Christians to sign, he writes: 

We are deeply concerned that American evangelicals, who should be led by the good news of God’s saving love for humanity, are instead being led astray by a popular gun culture that contradicts the teaching and model of Jesus and the Apostles.

In everything we think, say, and act upon, it must reflect the character of God and point others to Him. Our primary concern is that the subject of Christians and guns should be looked at as a biblical issue—not a political or legislative one.

Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wear orange every year in her honor. Lucy McBride has dedicated her life to end the epidemic of violence that took her son. Pastor Schenck is exhorting his evangelical friends and colleagues to think biblically and theologically about guns. Surely we can do our part, one public act, one brave conversation at a time.

One day the tide of violence in this country will turn, when enough people of goodwill persevere in doing what we know is right.